River Murray Mary – A Murray River Living Book

River Murray Mary by Colin Thiele

River Mary Mary – An Australian Living Book of Historical Fiction

We have just finished and enjoyed River Murray Mary by Colin Thiele. © 1979 as part of Australian literature content that I try to incorporate each term.

We used it as a read aloud but it would also be a good independent reader. This short chapter book (9 chapters) has watercolour illustrations from Robert Ingpen. It’s also available as an audio book.

Recommended reading age 7-12

Without Spoiling The Story I’ll Give A Brief Overview

Mary is an eleven year old happy girl who loves nature and her dog. Her father, a WWI soldier settler, now has a fruit farm along the Murray River. Mary, an only child, helps her parents with the daily and seasonal responsibilities of farming.

The family experiences hard times when:

  • illness strikes,
  • crops fail,
  • floods come
  • and fruit prices plummet.

Mary’s family handles each new challenge with an Australian battler spirit. Their family and community are strong and optimistic.

This is a good book for teaching children about life on the Murray in the 1920 – 1930.

Where To Find River Murray Mary

I found min in a second had store. You could try Books an Collectibles.

It is out of print but we found ours through the libraries interlibrary loan system. You can find it libraries around Australia with Trove.

You can also buy River Murray Mary as an ebook.

For more Australian stories and historical fiction for children see our Australian history and stories book list.

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  1. Val  September 23, 2009

    My children (and I) loved that book, especially the illustrations.

    I'm trying to find the name of a similar book that came out about that time, I think the character was a boy, living in a Queensland sugar town. Illustrations were of sugar can growing, sugar cane trains, Q'ld houses and schools. Any ideas?

  2. Jeanne  September 21, 2009

    I'm excited to use this book too – we're only an hour from the Mighty Murray.

    Most of Thiele is great, isn't it! (I'd say all but I haven't read them all!!)

  3. Naomi  September 14, 2009

    I'm very glad I chanced upon your website and blog. There seems to be a wealth of information, and I'm very grateful you've shared it with us. You're already in my 'favourites' list, and I'm certain I'll be visiting regularly. Thank you!

  4. Enduring Prize  September 9, 2009

    The library. To serch where you can find it in Australia use this great library search engine

  5. Leanne  September 9, 2009

    thanks, that sounds a rather good book. where did u get it?


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